Microsoft Delivers Universal Windows App Development at Build 2014

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-04-02 Print this article Print

Developers can create a project with heads for Windows and Windows Phone, or right-click to add a Windows or Windows Phone head to an existing application, he said. Microsoft has been gradually moving toward this capability for years and continues on the path to true unification of the development platform, the company said.

Indeed, Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC contains tools for the next generation of the Windows Phone platform and the Windows platform. “We have what we call a Windows Device Platform update that we’re going to be delivering at Build that contains a platform for phones in Windows Phone 8.1 and an update to Windows 8.1. And it also contains the latest tools that let you target those platforms,” Somasegar told eWEEK. “We are taking a huge step forward in what we call platform unification. Whether you are running Windows on a PC or a laptop, or whether you are running Windows on a slate, or whether you are running Windows on a phone, you can now use a concept we call Universal Project in Visual Studio to build one application where you literally share 90 percent of the APIs and a lot of your code and build different heads for the different form factors. You want to be able to build one app that spans across all Windows form factors.”

Indeed, Windows Phone 8.1 also enables developers to build applications using the Windows Runtime, with an API surface that is over 90 percent aligned with Windows 8.1 applications.  Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 enables developing WinRT-based apps for Windows Phone in C#/XAML, C++/XAML, C++/DirectX and JavaScript/HTML, Somasegar said.

Moreover, the suite of tools in Visual Studio for Windows Store development can all be used during development, debugging and diagnostics for Windows Phone 8.1 projects.

Microsoft also delivered TypeScript 1.0 and announced it is now taking contributions from the open-source community on TypeScript. TypeScript is Microsoft’s superset of JavaScript that is aimed at facilitating the development of enterprise-scale JavaScript applications. TypeScript has been an open-source project on Microsoft’s CodePlex site for more than a year and is now open to contributions.

In addition, Microsoft delivered a preview of its .NET Native Code Compilation for Windows and Windows Phone. The .NET Native is Microsoft’s attempt to combine the productivity of C# and .NET with the performance of native code. .NET Native is a faster just-in-time compiler, or rather an ahead-of-time compiler, that builds off of the Microsoft C++ compiler’s optimizer to produce native images with improvements to startup time, memory usage and application performance.

Meanwhile, Microsoft provided the final release of Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2013 Update 2.  This update provides dozens of new features in TFS, including improvements to Git support, backlog management in TFS Web Access, support for tags throughout Visual Studio and improvements in lightweight charting.

Other new features and updates in Visual Studio 2013 include improvements to ASP.NET and Web Tools, diagnostics tools, Azure tools, as well as updates to Microsoft’s release management and testing tools.


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